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Some Suggestions for the Total Recall Remake

Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

Producer Neil Moritz told Collider that the remake of Total Recall is on the way, and that Colin Farrell is going to get his ass to Mars in the lead role.

The summer of 1990 is filled with a lot of good memories for me, including the release of Paul Verhoeven’s striking, energetic sci-fi yarn. I imagine that a lot of fans might balk at the idea of a remake of one of the best action movies of the 90s, but I’ve got a few suggestions for how this movie can avoid sucking.

1. Go back to the source material.

It always bugs me when people automatically call a new adaptation of existing material a “remake.” The Coen brothers didn’t “remake” the movie True Grit – they made another adaptation of the novel.

And it sounds like Moritz and his team, which includes Underworld director Len Wiseman, are already planning to mine Philip K. Dick’s original novella, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale:

“It’s closer to the book, the big difference is we don’t go to space.”

2. Acknowledge the legacy of the Jason Bourne movies.

The Bourne trilogy will rightfully go down as one of the great action franchises of all time, and part of what makes those movies great is the little bit of DNA it shares with Total Recall. Both movies explore the nature of identity and memory, and both movies feature heroes who are shocked to discover that they are lethal weapons.

For me, the defining image of the Bourne movies is that of Bourne standing over a roomful of subdued foes with a gun in his hand. Pardon the bad quality, but here’s one of those fights:

The better comparison would be Bourne’s first fight, where he clobbers two cops in a snowy park, but all the same, compare the above scene with this great sequence from Total Recall:

There’s nothing wrong with following in the footsteps of the Bourne movies. The James Bond franchise did it and found its second wind. Total Recall should do the same.

3. For once in your life, Hollywood, please don’t feel the need to elicit a Pavlovian response from the geek community.

In my review of Terminator: Salvation, I complained about how Hollywood had fallen into the habit of blindly pinging the pleasure centers of geeks with shout-outs and homages to older movies. Clearly, a remake of Total Recall would hold similar temptations for homage, but I implore Len Wiseman, et al, to avoid including too many shout-outs to the original movie.

In fact, I’m putting them on notice: You’ve got one shout-out. So you better make it good. Might I suggest a travel agency whose slogan is “Get Your Ass to Mars”?

To refresh your memory, here’s a summary of the original novella, thanks to Wikipedia:

Douglas Quail, a simple and ordinary man, wishes to visit Mars. Unable to afford it, he visits a company, Rekal, Incorporated, that offers implanted memories (“extra-factual memory”). The attempt to implant some racy Mars memories of Quail as a secret agent reveals that Quail actually is an undercover government assassin with a mind full of dangerous secrets. The Rekal staff quickly get Quail out of their office; he heads home and finds certain physical evidence to support his new old memories. The government initially seeks his death but instead Quail manages to make a deal. He returns to Rekal to have his Mars memories once more suppressed, and is offered by way of compensation a set of heroic wish-fulfillment false memories. The Rekal staff begin the memory-implanting procedure — and uncover a different and older set of suppressed memories revealing that the unbelievable memories they are about to insert are already there and are true.